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Imperial Chinese Turret Ship “DING YUEN”

September 17, 2013 in Ships

The “DING YUEN” (or Tingyuan) had a curious place in naval history. Built in Germany and equipped with state of the art Krupp guns, it served as the Imperial fleet’s flagship. It’s design was part of the warship evolution of the late 1800’s, i.e., heavy caliber naval guns, but limited armor protection. At the time naval designers were limiting steel armor to the ships vitals such as the steam plant that propelled the ship and the main gun magazines and associated spaces. (Hence the term “turret” or “citidel” ship).This kept the vessel light weight and offered a top speed of 16 knots, pretty fast for a battleship of the 1880’s. When delivered to China it (and it’s sister ship) were the most powerful warships in the Far East. When war with Japan broke out the Ding Yuen and the Imperial Fleet gave a good account of themselves in battle. Unfortunately the Japanese had a larger number of ships and had very disiplined crews. The Chinese, on the other hand, were equipped with out dated ammunition that wouldn’t fire and were poorly trained. Still the Ding Yuen survived the battle but was scuttled to escape capture. Today the Chinese government had a replica of the ship built as a naval museum and is open to visitors.
The model was basically a piece of junk, poor molding, little detail, and poor fit. (But it came with a swell electric motor). As I paid $4.00 for it, I was close to pitiching it in the trash but I have a fondness for unusual ship designs. And I like a challenge. So I threw out pretty much the entire kit and went to work on improving this model. I built new masts, guns, added a wooden deck, photoetch parts from the scrap box, new deck vents, anchor pockets and chain, and small boats among other changes. I painted it in a peacetime scheme (In war time the ship was gray) and mounted it on a wood base.
When completed I was pleased with the results, but it was a month long project to correct all the shortcomings. Still, the model represents a little known period of ship development and has a unique place in my ship collection.

12 additional images. Click to enlarge

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12 responses to Imperial Chinese Turret Ship “DING YUEN”

  1. Nicely done, sir……nicely done.

  2. It might of started as junk but it definitely didn’t end up that way. Extremely well done. I don’t see where you mentioned who’s kit you started with?

    • Al
      Thanks for the compliment. (You too Craig!)
      The kit was a “beauty” from Zhengdefu in China. It was somewhere betwen a “toy” and a plastic model. I forgot to mention the scale is 1/300. This kit is not to be confused with the Bronco model of the same ship, nor the Iron Shipwright version at 1/350 scale.

  3. VERY cool. Like a Monitor on Steroids, kinda Maine-ish too, yes? Great silk purse from Sow’s ear.

  4. Reallv nice work. That replica at the end doesn’t look much like the model, which I suspect is more accurate.

  5. Mike,
    This is outstanding. What you have done with this is the mark of a true master. You have made this model come alive. I can only imagine what it would have been like on board, when the guns were fired. Marvelous piece of “Master” modeling.

  6. Mike, this has turned out to be a beautiful model of an unusual ship. Interestingly I was on holiday in August on the east coast of China and visited a couple of museums regarding the Japanese/Chinese conflicts, and I remember seeing some large scale models of these ships. Unfortunately due to the large number of people, and the reflections from the glass cases, I was unable to take any photos There is still a lot of ill feeling amongst the Chinese population regarding their neighbours…………Not sure where the full size replica is, but being a foreigner I’m not allowed in to any of their defence sites!

    • George
      The replica of the ship is located at Wei Hai formerly known as Port Edward and is open to the public. According to the internet there are a number of good hotels close by catering to tourists.
      The replica was built at the cost of 6 million dollars and is the “newest” pre dreadnaught in the world, at 8 years old. The USS MAINE is similar in appearence and, like the Ding Yuen, was a novel approach to the development in capital warships. All the “experimental” armoured war ships designs fell out of favor to the HMS DREADNOUGHT design which set the mark for every navy’s battleship.
      Thanks to everyone for the kind words regarding my model.

  7. Awesome build ! It looks powerful, sitting still. WOW !

  8. Wow! What a lot of work on such a poor kit. It makes me really appreciate the Bronco effort . . .a shake ‘n bake model in comparison.

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